ALBANY – Senator Cathy Young is requesting that a state agency take a more detailed look into the unsolved 2014 homicide involving a 16-month-old Jamestown girl.
Young says she is requesting that Sheila Poole, the acting commissioner of the state’s Office of Children and Family Services, reviews the records of the state’s Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment and check for allegations or incidents of possible abuse to 16-month-old Nayla Hodnett prior to her death.
“The Chautauqua County District Attorney, the Chautauqua County Office of Children and Family Services, and the state are working to secure justice since Nayla’s tragic passing.” Young said in a media release from her office. “Regrettably, whomever inflicted the deadly blows to this child remains free and they must be held accountable. With my letter to Acting Commissioner Poole, I am hopeful new light can be shed on this case, and new insight might aid District Attorney David Foley in his efforts.”
Hodnett was taken to WCA hospital the night of April 16, 2014 by her mother, before being flown to Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo for further treatment. The child later died of her injuries the morning of April 17. Police ruled the death a homicide but so far no arrests were made in the case, although both the mother and her boyfriend are considered persons of interest.
According to Senator Young, local Child Protective Services did not have contact with the Hodnett prior to her death, even though the child had been taken to a hospital on a previous occasion for a possible broken leg.
Young said the incident highlights problems with the current CPS system as it relates to mandatory reporting.
In addition to contacting state officials to look into the matter, she is also introducing legislation that would require calls made to the state central register be recorded, and that the audio files be made part of any report of suspected child abuse or neglect. She’s also introduced a bill that would require annual refresher training for anyone who is a mandatory reporter.
“This tragic incident has also highlighted several gaps in the current system which I am working to address through legislative action. While these actions won’t bring Nayla back, we can take steps to prevent such heartbreak from striking another family,” Senator Young said.
Young also says anyone with additional information on the case is asked to contact Chautauqua County District Attorney David Foley at 716-753-4241.